VANCOUVER — The B.C. Lions clinched a home date in the 2023 CFL playoffs on the arm of quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and the hands of receiver Keon Hatcher and Alexander Hollins.
For the second time in two seasons, the B.C. Lions are hosting a home playoff game.
The Lions (11-4) ensured the home game with a 33-26 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-9) on Friday night at B.C. Place.
Hatcher and Hollins both passed the 1,000-yards mark for the season in the win.
"The CFL is a big-play league and their two long touchdowns were at a huge time in the game," said Lions head coach Rick Campbell.
"Our receiver group is a really fun group to be around. They have good camaraderie, they compete, they bring a good vibe to our building and practices. They like playing with each other."
Adams went 27 of 36, throwing for three touchdowns and 458 yards. That passing yardage is his highest total in a CFL game this season.
The quarterback, who wore a shirt with "Offensive Line" and pictures of his teammates emblazoned on it during the post-game press conference, was quick to pay tribute to others and looked ahead to next Friday's tilt against the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Both teams are tied for first in the West Division
"Pressure is a privilege," he said. "We're built for it … we need to bring our A-plus game."
The Roughriders' offence showed flashes of positive play, with Jake Dolegala finishing 31 of 46 for 406 yards albeit with two interceptions.
"My job is to score one more point than him," said Dolegala about his performance compared to Adams. "When he does what he does, we have to be able to match that.
"I had a couple missed throws, a couple of miscommunications. We just have to get better. It's frustrating when you're that close. We know we can beat this team. We can't be doing this too little too late B.S. It's getting old."
Hatcher recorded 172 yards and one touchdown, while Hollins had 83 yards and two touchdowns for the Lions.
Hatcher blew up in the first half, getting 148 yards of his total yards and a touchdown on eight catches.
"We're on a roll right now," said Hollins. "The offence is playing pretty good. We just got to stayed locked into the details and the things we need to do and the things that we can control. Everything will fall into place."
Hollins reached his milestone mark after going 71 yards, finishing with a touchdown from an Adams deep throw that fooled the Roughriders' secondary.
He followed that up with a five-yard touchdown, taking off to dance and celebrate with Lions' defensive coordinator Ryan Phillips.
Saskatchewan's offence suffered from a series of dropped passes and by a Dolegala interception in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.
"We've got to maintain consistent effort, play better, Not just be coming back from three scores down. The score honestly flattered us. We were out of that game," said Saskatchewan head coach Craig Dickenson. "We've got to do a better job of staying within striking range."
The B.C. Lions host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Oct. 6, while the Roughriders host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Oct. 7.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2023.
Nick Wells, The Canadian Press